Don’t Cut Down No Trees

        This story was told to me by Moose Dooley. I was out-of-town for this gig, but Moose was there.

        The boys got hired to play one of your standard back-yard BBQ gigs at a local farm owned by a pathologist. The man was brilliant. I am always drawn to people like that. Sometimes I’d see him in the hospital cafeteria, seated in a corner all alone with his coffee and a journal. People were almost scared of him, and didn’t know how to talk to him. My guess is he was so far off the curve as a kid it was a lonely childhood.

        I’d go up and ask him about my patient’s right ovary from a hysterectomy three years ago. He’d brighten right up. The man would take off his glasses, wave his hands around in the air and get all animated. He would go through the old slides in fabulous detail from memory alone. His problem in life was few people wanted to listen, and almost no one understood his genius and passion. I did, and I love people like that.  They are so driven about what they do most folks don’t get them.

        Some people didn’t like him.  He and I got along fine. The reason we were and still are friends is that I understood him.  He could not understand any human being who didn’t pursue excellence in what they do. I agree.

        So, back to the gig at the farm.  The man had a long black beard and bushy eyebrows that bounced up and down as he spoke.  He looked a bit reclusive. The lights in the house were low. He said except for microscopes the light hurt his eyes and he preferred dark surroundings. His little family was most pleasant, but they also all dressed in black.

        He greeted Moose and the boys warmly. “Boys,” he said in a low voice. “I want you to have good time. Drink all the beer you want, eat my food, enjoy the barbecue, and play as long as you like.”  He handed Moose a check for the event.  “Here is your pay. Do anything you like while you are here but….” He took off his glasses and his lowered his voice to a whisper. “But whatever you do don’t cut down no trees.”

        Moose is an ex-All State football player and as tough a man as I know. There is not a deferential bone in his body. He looked that little book-ish man right in the eye and said, “Yes, sir.”

        The other boys had to ask.  “We ain’t gonna cut down no trees. What was that all about?”

        Moose said, “Boys, all I can tell you is that every man has some cage you don’t want to rattle. That man is brilliant. Doc said almost no one understands him. If a man like that says not to cut his trees, I’d take it for what it is and not go there.”

       They shrugged their shoulders and got out their instruments. “Whatever you say, Moose. Lets play.”

        We all have our trees, I guess. Mine is my patients.  If my long-term patient has a wierd dull flank pain that keeps him up at night and a premonition he has something bad, and you are an insurance cat who wants to deny him a CT to save a few bucks, all I can tell you is you’d best move aside. I’m a nice man, but don’t cut down my trees. I will prevail over you or die trying and you can count on it.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Don’t Cut Down No Trees”

  1. danny fulks Says:

    My folks were conservationists, had to be. Don’t cause erosion, don’t wear out the soil, leave some willows along the creek banks. Don’t sell your trees to a shady woodcutter. Am I right, that my impressions of the South include how they value trees. You see blacktop parking lots with trees select trees left. (Not at Walmart) We used to know the value of shade, the wild life trees draw, their beauty, they were a form of currency. My dad transplanted trees for the woods to the yard to memorialize birthdays.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Amen Dan.

      We put out a tree for each child’s birth, and did the same thing at the office for a long time.

      Dr. B

  2. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B…Without trees, where would the birds nest? I know they would find other places…I guess I just asked that because I just got back from my walk and the trees are buzzing with birds singing about Spring.

    We all do have our trees. Don’t mess with my “children”. My pets, I should say. I know that they are four legged furry things. But, they depend on us for love and food and housing. People who mistreat animals. They are on my list.

    • drtombibey Says:


      It would be a sad world with no trees, birds, or songs.

      People who mistreat animals or humans who are in no position to defend themseves are high on my list of people to distance myself from too.

      Dr. B

  3. This is a wonderful tale, Dr. B, and as usual, all the better for being a true one. That man sounds like someone I’d like to meet. There are so many people in this world who are passionate and dedicated but so nervous or shy or unsure of themselves that they don’t know how to deal with others all that well. I’m glad you’re a man who doesn’t take oddness at face value, but recognized the man for what he was.

    I think we do all have our trees – the things that we’ll fight for tooth and nail.

    • drtombibey Says:


      You are a good young’un. I was always smart, but not a brilliant man. One secret to what little success I’ve had was because I took other people for what they were and tried to learn from them.

      I got along with almost everyone except anyone who tried to take advantage of my people, either family, patients, or staff. Then I turned into a beast.

      There were only a half dozen or so, but each time they were mystified as to what happened. They’d ask others, “Where did that come from?”

      The people who know me well would say, “Dr. B is a nice man, but don’t cut down his trees.”

      Dr. B

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